What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety, or extreme apprehension and worry, is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations.

This type of steady, all-over anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Other anxiety-related disorders include panic attacks—severe episodes of anxiety which happen in response to specific triggers—and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is marked by persistent intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors (such as hand-washing).

Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males.

Generally, anxiety arises first, often during childhood. Evidence suggests that both biology and environment can contribute to the disorder. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, this does not make development of the condition inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also reset the body’s normal fear-processing system so that it is hyper-reactive to stress.

The exaggerated worries and expectations of negative outcomes in unknown situations that typify anxiety are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, and frequent urination. Behavioral therapies, with or without medication to control symptoms, have proved highly effective against anxiety, especially in children.

Recent posts on Anxiety

How to Shrink Your Fears Down to Size

By Leslie Becker-Phelps Ph.D. on September 22, 2017 in Making Change
When you stand tall against your fears, they become smaller. First learn to face your fears. Then summon your courage and do it!

How Group Therapy Can Empty Your Basket of Troubles

Unsatisfied with individual therapy? Here's how a group can help.

Earthquake Shock: Mexico’s Buried Schoolgirl Who Never Was

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in It's Catching
Vanishing Schoolgirl Likely Never Existed

How Can a Teacher Help a Shy Child?

By Barbara Markway Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in Shyness Is Nice
Do you worry about your quiet child? Following these tips can help a shy child shine.
Source: pixabay/CC0

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up About Your Mistakes

By Tasha Eurich Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in The Power of Insight
Are you stuck in an endless cycle of self-flagellation? The bad news is that catastrophizing is bad for us. The good news is that we can stop it in its tracks.

How You Use Mindfulness Matters

By John P Forsyth Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in Peace of Mind
Are you struggling to be more mindful? A tweak in how you use it may be all you need.
Hill Air Force Base

Tips and Books to Help Kids Recover From the Hurricanes

By Azmaira H. Maker Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in Helping Kids Cope
Helping includes providing safety, getting children back to school, and creating stability in their lives.

Cartoon Villains, Stress, and Health: Kim and The Donald

By Daniel P. Keating Ph.D. on September 20, 2017 in Stressful Lives
The war of words: "fire and fury" and "sea of flames" may be empty threats (we hope), but even so, the stress from fear and uncertainty will harm health for years to come.

Post-Hurricane Stress, Anxiety, Recovery, and PTSD

By Elyssa Barbash Ph.D. on September 20, 2017 in Trauma and Hope
Two major hurricanes and a destructive earthquake occurred in the past week. Are you feeling the stress?

Attachment Styles

Attachment styles can affect our partner selection, the way in which we relate to our significant other, and the behaviors we display during the course of our relationship.
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Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

By Robert Puff Ph.D. on September 19, 2017 in Meditation for Modern Life
We have to do specific things to improve our level of happiness.

6 Ways to Turn the Worst Part of Your Day into the Best

Getting to places on time, whether work or social occasions, can be a hassle. New research based on travel habits of commuters shows how to be less stressed and more punctual.
 Can Stock Photo/aleutie

The Problem of School Refusal

Most children look forward to the new school year with joy and enthusiasm. But for kids with school refusal, it is a nightmare for them and their parents.
By Staff Sgt. Corey J. Hook/Wikimedia Commons

10 Faulty Thoughts That Occur in Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on September 18, 2017 in Science of Choice
Faulty thinking sheds light on the development and maintenance of BDD.

Rewire Your Burned-Out Brain

By Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed. on September 18, 2017 in Radical Teaching
You can rewire your brain to reverse burnout symptoms and boost your optimism, pleasure, and positive expectations.
Wikicommons

Mundus Novus (The New World)

By Chris Kutarna Ph.D. on September 18, 2017 in Age of Discovery
Overwhelmed by the pace of change? Some conscious map-making helps us navigate a new world.

Early Adolescence and the Fear of Change

Although parents sometimes feel critical of adolescent changes, they should also be admiring: Separating from childhood and starting to grow takes a lot of courage.
tomwang / 123RF Stock Photo

When Trust Is Gone, What Can You Do?

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on September 17, 2017 in Off the Couch
We live in a time when everyone is talking about trust and no one seems to be feeling much of it. Here's what you can do when you no longer trust.
lilytaloolayoga

Self-Critical? Time to Lighten Up on Yourself

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on September 16, 2017 in Fixing Families
Self-criticism can erode your self-esteem, keep you constantly anxious, sap you of any of life's rewards. Time to calm those scolding voices.
Graphic Stock

How Melatonin Helps You Sleep

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on September 15, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
Learn all about how melatonin can help sleep and bio time.

What Are You Waiting For?

By Atalanta Beaumont on September 15, 2017 in Handy Hints for Humans
Carpe Diem: You'll never get today back.

Bedside Manners and Coping with Fear and Anxiety

The power of knowledge can not only improve our emotional symptoms, but our physical ones as well.

How Avoiding Conflict Escalates Conflict In Relationships

Conflict-resilient people have healthier and more intimate relationships.
KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock

Operating From Fear

By Matt James Ph.D. on September 14, 2017 in Focus on Forgiveness
Is fear holding you back? Try one of these techniques whenever you feel an old fear keeping you from what you really want in life.
HarperCollins

Emotional Contagions

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on September 14, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
A science journalist finds himself personally impacted by his comprehensive exploration of social contagions.

Healthy and Unhealthy Risk

By Roberta Satow Ph.D. on September 13, 2017 in Life After 50
Are you stilted in your career because of fear of failure? Or are you a self-destructive risk-taker? Either way, your reality testing is distorted.

Young Yogis Rock

By Gail F. Melson Ph.D. on September 13, 2017 in Why the Wild Things Are
Contemplative practices, like yoga, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery and relaxation breathing can help children deal with stress, reduce anxiety and improve well-being.

"Too Important" or "Too Needy" to Unplug from Technology?

Is it narcissim or a fear of personal irrelevance that leads us to panic when we have to ignore texts or other instant messaging due to where we're at or what we're doing?

Why Millennials Need Quarter-Life Crises

By Caroline Beaton on September 12, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
Our career is chugging along per usual when a simple question falls from the sky and shatters our okay routine: “Is this it?”
DepositPhotos/VIA Institute

A Brand New Way to Understand Social Anxiety

By Ryan M. Niemiec Psy.D. on September 12, 2017 in What Matters Most?
Think you know what social anxiety is? This post proves you do not. You'll see social anxiety in an new, helpful way...actually in 6 new and helpful ways.